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Henrik H. Sørensen

Site of an ancient cemetery for Khocho, 40 km south-east of Turfan in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. The burial ground, which contains over 400 tombs, covers a large area and is divided into three sections: a north-western group with the earliest graves, a north-eastern group consisting of later, commoners’ graves, and a later northern group intended for the nobility. A wooden document found at the site indicates that it was in use before ad 273. From other unearthed written evidence it is thought that Astana ceased to be used in the late 8th century. It appears that most of those buried here were Chinese.

Many tombs contained a couple, or in some cases a man and several wives. A few single burials have also been found. In several cases the exact dating of a tomb is possible owing to memorial inscriptions on clay slates placed next to the bodies. The early tombs were made by digging a vertical entry shaft into the ground with chambers on the sides, while the later tombs have an access ramp sloping down to the burial chamber, sometimes with side rooms and antechambers. The tombs made for the nobility are usually decorated with wall paintings depicting such motifs as birds and flowers, stylized landscapes and figures; many are in the style of the early Tang period (...



Mary S. Lawton


Site of a Neolithic village 10 km east of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China, from which is derived the name of the early phase (c. 4800–c. 4300 bc) of the Neolithic Central Yangshao culture. Archaeological excavations began in 1953; within an area of 5 hectares, 45 residences and more than 200 tombs were revealed. Subsequent carbon-14 tests dated the site to soon after 5000 bc. The excavations indicate that the settlement was divided into three separate areas, for residence, pottery production and burial. The residential section was surrounded by a manmade moat. Earlier houses were constructed partially underground, but later structures were built at ground-level. Floor-plans varied and could be circular or rectangular (e.g. see China, People’s Republic of, §II, 5, (ii)), but the main building material was mud mixed with straw. The traditional Chinese orientation of the entrance towards the south and the use of wooden roof support frames can be seen already in the architecture of Banpo (...



Julia M. White


Site in the Tao River valley near Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China. First excavated in 1924 by the Swedish archaeologist johan gunnar Andersson (1874–1960), it gives its name to a phase (c. 2800–c. 2300 bc) of the Neolithic-period Western or Gansu Yangshao culture.

Four sites make up Banshan: Waguanzui, Banshan proper, Bianjiagou and Wangjiagou. Excavations in the region have shown that the Banshan cultural phase includes a range of sites extending north from Lanzhou to Wuwei and Yongchang in Gansu Province and as far west as the Guide Basin in Qinghai Province. Banshan was the source of a large number of painted ceramic vessels, many now in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm. Since the major archaeological excavations of the 1970s and 1980s, museums and research institutes in China, particularly the Gansu Provincial Museum in Lanzhou and the Qinghai Provincial Museum in Xining, have acquired large collections of Banshan pottery. Initial finds of Banshan ceramics were exclusively funerary wares, leading experts to believe that the painted designs, especially the black, swirling ‘death pattern’, were associated with ritual burial practice. Later, vessels with an identical serrated pattern were found in habitation sites as well, and the designs are no longer interpreted only in connection with death....


M. Yaldiz


Site in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, 56 km north-east of Turfan. It is the site of the most outstanding complex of Buddhist cave temples in Khocho and is located in the steep side of an extensive terrace above the Murtuk River. At one time access to the caves was via free-standing timber buildings or terraces constructed in front of them, but by the time the caves were discovered by Albert von Le Coq at the beginning of the 20th century these were largely in ruins. In type the caves conform to those in the Kucha region (see Kizil; see also Central Asia, §II, 2).

The cave temples contained sculptures made of unfired clay, but it was mainly the wall paintings (removed by von Le Coq for safekeeping, few survive; see below) that in their unsurpassable diversity provided evidence of a flourishing Buddhist community. The most impressive were the paintings depicting consecration of a ...



Henrik H. Sørensen

[’phyongs rgyas; Qonggyai]

Site at the north-eastern end of the Chongye Valley south of the town of Tsetang (Zêtang) on the southern bank of the Tsangpo River (Yarlung Zangbo) in south-east Tibet. It is the setting for the royal tombs of the Yarlung dynasty (mid-7th century adc. 9th century).

Estimates of the number of tombs vary between ten and thirteen. Buried on this site were Songtsen Gampo (reg c. 620–49), Mangsong Mangtsen (reg 649–76), Tride Tsugten (reg 704–55), Trisong Detsen (reg 755–c. 794), Mune Tsenpo (reg 797–800), Tride Songtsen (reg c. 800–15), Ralpachen (reg 815–36), Langdarma (reg 836–42), Ö Sung (843–905), Lhe bön (d 739) and Chögyi Gyalpo. Trisong Detsen’s tomb lies away from the other tumuli behind a low ridge to the north. The tombs consist of massive mounds of earth. Songtsen Gampo’s and Mangsong Mangtsen’s are huge: the former, which dominates the site, rises to a height of more than 15 m and has rectangular sides measuring 250×70 m. The other tumuli are considerably smaller, although Ralpachen’s tomb is also on an impressive scale. None of the tombs has been fully excavated, but a reconstruction of ...


M. Yaldiz

[Dandan-uilik; Dandan-uiliq]

Site on the eastern edge of the oasis of Khotan, on the southern Silk Route, in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. The site, which was investigated by Aurel Stein in 1900–01, contained the ruins of six dwellings and eleven places of worship, probably built between the 7th and 9th centuries ad. Finds include two manuscripts (both London, BM)—a canonical text of Mahayana Buddhism, the Prajñāparamitā (Skt: ‘Perfection of wisdom’), in an East Iranian language, and a Vajracchedikā (‘diamond-knife’; sharp as a diamond) version in Sanskrit—as well as wall paintings and small wooden painted panels (?8th century; London, BM) with various motifs. One of the latter shows two riders, one above the other surrounded by a halo, the one above on a horse, the one below on a camel; each holds a dish in his right hand (Yaldiz, pl. 117). On another small wooden panel are two figures facing each other, surrounded by almond-shaped haloes: on the left a fan-bearer, on the right a figure with an animal-like head (Yaldiz, pl. 118). Stein believed this to be an illustration of the rat legend recorded by the Chinese pilgrim ...


Dorothy C. Wang


Site of Buddhist cave sanctuaries located 25 km south-east of the county town of Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China. In the wider definition Dunhuang also includes the Yulin caves at Anxi and the Xi qianfo dong (Western Cave of the Thousand Buddhas). From the 4th century to the 14th, Buddhist cave sanctuaries were continuously carved out in four or five tiers on the cliff face of an alluvial hill that faces east over the Dang River. At its height as a Buddhist complex in the 8th century ad, the complex is believed to have comprised more than 1000 caves. A total of 492 caves with wall paintings and sculptures survive, the earliest of which date to the early 5th century ad. A hoard of old and rare manuscripts was also found at Dunhuang, including the world’s oldest complete printed book (see China, People’s Republic of, §XIV, 3).

Dunhuang was first established as a garrison town in the ...



Henrik H. Sørensen

[dga ’ldan]

Site near Dagzê, c. 40 km east of Lhasa, Tibet. It was the principal monastery founded by Tsong Khapa (1357–1419) in the early decades of the 15th century, and it thereafter became a major sanctuary of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism that he established. Formerly an impressive monastery town with several hundred shrines and chapels and a population of over 5000 lamas, Ganden was utterly destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–76). The monastery is still largely ruined, though some reconstruction has begun. The buildings that stand today all date from after 1980.

Ganden was built on the slopes of a hill with the buildings constructed in descending layers in a crescent shape. The heart of Ganden and its most important structure is Tsong Khapa’s Golden Tomb, the Ser Dung. This consists of several interconnecting buildings with high, tower-like superstructures and a courtyard; the inward-sloping walls are painted brown-red. This sanctuary contains several chapels with golden images of Buddhas and guardian deities. In the central chapel in the upper storey is Tsong Khapa’s tomb, a replica of the large stupa made of silver and gold in which the master was originally enclosed. Other main buildings include the Tri Dok Khang, where the abbot of Ganden lived. In a chapel on the second floor is kept a set of the ...


Molly Siuping Ho

[Kung hsien]

Site in Henan Province, China, east of the city of Luoyang. A complex of five Buddhist caves, dating from the Northern Wei period (ad 386–534), is located on the south side of Mt Mang on the northern bank of the Yiluo River. The ground level along the river is higher than the ground level inside the caves by over a metre because of dirt accumulated from flooding. The construction of the caves, sponsored by the Northern Wei imperial family, took place between c. ad 505 and 526, starting with Cave 1. In addition, many small niches and inscriptions sponsored by other devotees were carved later on the outside of the caves and bear dates ranging from ad 531 to 1735.

Cave 1, on the far west, measures 6×6 m; caves 3, 4 and 5 are successively smaller in size, and Cave 2 is unfinished. All are square in layout and, except for Cave 5, have internal central pillars. The once coherent sculpted façade between caves 1 and 2 is now in a fragmentary state. Inside the caves, all surfaces are fully sculpted. The main Buddhist images occur in configurations of three or five, in niches occupying the centre portions of the west, north and east walls and the central pillars. The ceilings of caves 1, 3 and 4 are divided into squares by crossbeams, and each square is decorated with an ...



E. Errington

[Haḍḍa; Hilo]

Site of numerous Buddhist monasteries, 8 km south-west of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. It flourished from the 1st century bc to the 8th century ad. The ancient site, known as Hilo to Chinese pilgrims of the 5th–8th century, is partially covered by a modern village. The earliest archaeological reports were compiled by Claude-Auguste Court (1827), Charles Masson (1834) and William Simpson (1878–9). Masson excavated 14 stupas, primarily at Gundi Kabul (also known as Tepe Kabul and Tepe Safed). He also uncovered the stupa at Tepe Kalan (also known as Tapa-é-Top-é-Kalan, Tope Kelan and Bordji-i Kafariha). A French delegation excavated most of the remaining ruins, including Tepe Kafariha and Bagh Gai, between 1926 and 1928. In 1965 a Japanese mission investigated Lalma, 3 km south-west of Hadda. Tepe Shotor (also known as Tapa-é-Shotor) and Tepe Kalan were excavated by the Afghan Institute of Archaeology between 1965 and ...


Bent L. Pedersen

[Ho-chia ts’un]

Site in the southern suburbs of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China. A hoard of precious objects from the Tang period (ad 618–907) was discovered in the village in 1970. Two large pottery jars contained about 1000 objects of both Chinese and foreign origin, including jades, precious stones, medicinal minerals such as cinnabar, stalactite, amethyst and litharge, coins and more than 270 silver and gold items. The hoard was buried within the area of the Tang capital, Chang’an, at the site of the mansion of Li Shouli, Prince of Bin, who died in ad 741. Some Chinese coins and silver discs date to the Kaiyuan reign period (713–41; the latest inscribed date on a silver disc corresponds to ad 731). There were also five coins from Japan, minted between 708 and 715. Thus, the treasure was possibly hidden in ad 756, when the Prince’s son fled from the capital with Emperor Xuanzong (...



Robert E. Murowchick


Site of a Neolithic village in Yuyao County, Zhejiang Province, China. It was excavated in 1973–4 and 1977–8. Of the four cultural layers identified, the upper two layers (1 and 2), radiocarbon dated to c. 3700 bc, correspond to the neighbouring Songze culture. The lower two layers (3 and 4), radiocarbon dated to the late 6th millennium bc and early 5th, are particularly rich in cultural material and best represent the early phase of the Neolithic Hemudu culture (c. 5200–c.3300 bc) located south of Hangzhou Bay. Vast quantities of discarded faunal and floral remains include the earliest known evidence of rice cultivation in China, dating from c. 5000 bc. The extensive and well-preserved remains of wooden pile dwellings show carefully constructed mortice-and-tenon joinery. Numerous bone utensils were found, particularly hoes carved and polished from mammal scapulae, paddles, spindle whorls, handles and weaving shuttles; some of these were engraved with horizontal and diagonal lines and figures of birds. A red ...



Bent Nielsen

[Chin-ts’un; Kin-ts’un]

Site in Henan Province, China, c. 115 km north-east of Luoyang. Eight tombs of the late Warring States period (403–221 bc) were discovered there. Lavishly furnished with objects of jade, glass, gold, silver, bronze and similar materials, the tombs were looted by local people from 1928 to 1931. Some 300 items (Toronto, Royal Ont. Mus.) were collected and described by Bishop William Charles White, a Canadian who was stationed at nearby Kaifeng at the time. A selection of about 200 objects from private and public collections all over the world was subsequently published (see Umehara). Several of the artefacts contained in the graves were inscribed and thus can be ascribed to specific centuries and feudal states of the Warring States period, leading to some disagreement as to the origin of the tombs: they are considered either to have been constructed by the House of Zhou and to contain presents and tributary objects from the feudal states, or to have been constructed by the state of Qin and to contain war booty....



Peter Hardie

[Chichow; Chi-chou; Ji’an; Chi-an]

Site in central Jiangxi Province, China, and former centre of ceramic production. Jizhou is the Sui- to Song-period (581–1279) name for modern Ji’an, a town on the Ganjiang River, which flows northwards into the Yangzi Basin. Ceramic kilns operated from at least the Tang period (ad 618–907) until the end of the Yuan (1279–1368) at the village of Yonghexu, about 8 km outside the town. The site is recorded in Wang Zuo’s 1462 edition of the Gegu yaolun (‘Essential criteria of antiquities’). Archibald Brankston visited it in 1937 and took sherds to England (London, BM), and from 1953 the local authorities have continued the investigation and excavation of the remains of some 20 kilns and other structures.

After some experimentation with whitewares and celadons in the Tang, the kilns’ range of activity was developed during the Song (960–1279), especially the Southern Song (...


Henrik H. Sørensen

[Moshui; anc. Mongol. Etzina: ‘black city’; Chin. Juyan]

Site of a major fortress–town and frontier post of the Xixia state (1032–1227) of the Tanguts, near Ejin Qi (Dalain Hob), in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China. The circumstances of the founding of Karakhoto remain unclear. From archaeological findings, however, it is evident that it was a flourishing centre of culture and trade with a multinational population of Tanguts, Chinese and Tibetans. Karakhoto was visited by the Venetian Marco Polo in the 13th century. Significant portions of the city walls and remains of lesser structures can still be seen.

However, what is most important is the large number of artefacts excavated, including religious paintings, sculptures and a vast amount of manuscripts and printed scriptures, mostly written in the Xixia language. Most of this rich material relates to Buddhism and shows how Xixia Buddhist art was multifaceted, containing elements from Chinese, Tibetan and indigenous traditions. Many of the Tantric wall paintings, including such motifs as ...



M. Yaldiz

[Karakhoja; Qočo; Chin. Gaochang]

Site 47 km south-east of Turfan in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. The most important complexes of monasteries in the Khocho area are Idikutshahri, Lenger, Senghim and Bezeklik. To the west of the town is the Chinese necropolis of Astana. The earliest evidence of settlement in the area is that a ruler of the Tujue dynasty, probably of Turkish origin, had an inscription placed on a temple of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, in Khocho in ad 445. Chinese, Sogdians and Tokharians also lived here between the 5th and 7th century. Khocho was occupied by forces of the Tang dynasty in 640. A brief Tibetan interregnum (c. 790–843) ended when the Uygurs established their kingdom here. From the evidence of their manuscripts and art objects, the Uygurs not only observed the Buddhist cult but also practised Nestorian Christianity and Manichaeism (see also Central Asia §II 1., (v)...



M. Yaldiz


Site of Buddhist monastic complexes c. 40 km north-west of Kucha on the upper reaches of the Muzart River in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. So far 227 caves have been uncovered. They are in a wall of rock pierced by a ‘Great Gorge’ in the western third of the complex and two ‘small’ gulleys to the east. At the end of the main terrace of the complex of caves a narrow path below the Devil’s Caves (nos 198 and 199 in the Chinese numerical system) leads north-east along the edge of the mountain to the ‘second’ and ‘third’ complexes.

Because they are so well preserved the temples can be unhesitatingly assigned to four definite architectural categories. Type 1 is what is known as the pillar-temple, consisting of a square or rectangular cella with a pillar forming the back wall. The cult image stands on a pedestal in front of the pillar. On either side there are corridors leading into a transverse passageway and into the mountain; these are used in the ritual transformation (Skt ...



M. Yaldiz


Site of Buddhist monasteries c. 25 km south-west of Kucha in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. The monasteries were built on both banks of the Muzart River, spread out over three gorges, and comprised both cave temples and free-standing buildings. The architecture is the same as that at Kizil. The wall paintings (some in situ; some Berlin, Mus. Ind. Kst) are in the first and second Indo-Iranian styles (5th–7th century ad). However, there are also caves with paintings in the style of the Chinese Tang period (ad 618–907) dating from the 8th to the 10th century, mainly in the eastern monastery site north of the Silk Route, such as the Kinnarī, Apsaras and Nirvāna caves. These paintings are similar to those at Shorchuk and Turfan further east. There are also a few paintings showing a gentle transition to a third style, such as a preaching scene (Berlin, Mus. Ind. Kst, MIK III 9024), where Indo-Iranian elements mix with Buddhist–Chinese ones, so that it is impossible to compare the drawing and colours with the work of the main schools. The facial traits of the Buddha, the flaming halo and the spotted garments are strong eastern characteristics, while the braid, lotus and clothes of the monk show influence from the west....



Robert W. Bagley


Site in Hunyuan County, northern Shanxi Province, China. A tomb or hoard of Eastern Zhou (771–256 bc) bronzes was discovered at the site in 1923. The bronzes (mainly Shanghai, Shanghai Mus.; Paris, Mus. Guimet; Washington, DC, Freer; New York, Met.) include one vessel decorated in red inlay with a turbulent hunting scene and another textured with a repetitive pattern of tiny interlocked dragons in rectangular units. The majority, however, are decorated in low or high relief with horizontal bands of large-scale dragon interlace and are often further embellished with intaglio sketches or modelled figures of such creatures as fish, ducks, and water buffalo. In Western writings about Chinese bronzes the name of the site has been attached to designs of this last type. A large bronze pan (Beijing, Pal. Mus.), though not from the Liyu group, is a dazzling example of the so-called Liyu style. The style probably spanned the late ...



Molly Siuping Ho


Site of Buddhist cave temples located 12 km south of Luoyang, Henan Province, China. From the end of the 6th century ad to the mid-8th century many caves were excavated into the low limestone hills that run along the northern and southern banks of the Yi River. The sculptures and reliefs they contain, also carved from the living rock, range in size from the small to the colossal. Work was begun under the patronage of the Northern Wei dynasty (ad 386–534), the capital of which was moved in ad 493–4 from Datong, Shanxi Province, to Luoyang. Construction continued until 755, the year of the rebellion of An Lushan against the Tang dynasty (ad 618–907). The caves thus provide evidence both of the development of Buddhist sculpture and of the imperial patronage of the Northern Wei and Tang dynasties between the late 5th century ad and the mid-8th century. The scale and ambition of the project is evoked in the ...